Undesigned Coincidences from The Library of Historic Apologetics




 
This video is the product of a recent collaboration between me and Tim McGrew  the distinguished philosopher from Western Michigan University. Tim reads lots of old books and this video reflects one in particular from 1869 by John James Blunt called Undesigned Coincidences. The cool thing about old books is that they are now public domain, which translates to free for you and me. The Christian faith has a plethora of apologetics resources that are largely forgotten about and Dr McGrew has started a website The Library of Historic Apologetics to help remedy that or at least to expose those who are interested to some of the better works.

An undesigned coincidence occurs when one account of an event leaves out a bit of information that doesn’t affect the overall picture, but a different account indirectly supplies the missing detail, usually answering some natural question raised by the first. Forgers do not want to leave loose ends like this that might raise awkward questions; they take care to tie everything together neatly. But these are just the sort of things we would expect to find in authentic and at least partly independent records of the same real event told by different people. This video examines several of these undesigned coincidences in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.

http://historicalapologetics.org/blunt-john-james/

Harold Camping is Right, Judgment Day Approaches For Thousands!

Harold Camping’s date for judgment day is only three days away. While it can be really exciting to think that the Lord is about to return to set things right, date setting has a dishonorable pedigree and a 100% failure rate. Given its history, it is rather astonishing that folks still engage in it. In the interest of being charitable, I can sympathize with why someone might be tempted into doing it once. But Harold Camping should know better as he has failed on multiple occasions. This not only discredits serious Christianity, it has become deadly serious.  First, a brief survey, Harold Camping proclaimed the Lord’s return would be in 1994.

“We have also discovered that that the last day will take place between September 15 and September 27.”[1]

In the same book he also wrote:

When the pastor and the teachers in a congregation teach the ideas of men – even though they may use biblical language and quote verses – if what they teach is not firmly based in the Word of God, then it is lies…[2]

Does Camping learn his lesson? No he writes yet another book and proclaims the Lord’s return will be on May 21, 2011. He also gives interviews, stating it as a certainty.

God has given sooo much information in the Bible about this, and so many proofs, and so many signs, that we know it is absolutely going to happen without any question at all. There’s nothing in the Bible that God has ever prophesied — there’s many things that he prophesied would happen and they always have happened — but there’s nothing in the Bible that holds a candle to the amount of information to this tremendous truth of the end of the world. I would be absolutely in rebellion against God if I thought anything other than it is absolutely going to happen without any question.[3]

With that in mind the Bible teaches that God holds teachers to higher standard:

Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (Jas 3:1)

The Hmong are an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. In Vietnam, there has been an explosive missionary success in th last ten years and Hmong Christians now number upwards of 175,000.[4] Starved for biblical teaching, many were able to receive the radio signal of Harold Camping’s radio network. Being uneducated and credulous, they wholeheartedly believed Camping’s May 21, 2011 date.  The atheistic communist authorities had other ideas.

Hundreds of Hmong Christians are said to have been gunned down by security forces in Vietnam after the group had gathered near a mountain to await the rapture and return of Jesus Christ. The group of believers apparently learned of the rapture’s timing from Family Radio broadcaster Harold Camping.[5]

Was Camping’s heat pierced? Did he repent? No… when this failed, he defended it:

“We had all of our dates correct,” Camping insisted, clarifying that he now understands that Christ’s May 21 arrival was “a spiritual coming” ushering in the last five months before the final judgment and destruction.”[6]

When questioned about all the misery and chaos he has caused, he demurs, “I don’t have any responsibility,” Camping insisted.  “I don’t have responsibility for anybody’s life. I only teach what the Bible says.”[7] He also equivocates that the world will end in fiery destruction on October 21, 2011.

On June 13, 2011, Harold Camping has a stroke and is hospitalized. Is judgment really close? Of course it is (Jas 4:14)! Statistics demonstrate that some 154,889 people die every single day.[8]  In truth, every day is judgment day for thousands. God is a righteous judge and he cannot give sin a pass. The only way to be pardoned is through Jesus Christ (2 Co 5:21; Ro 10:9). I am not making any predictions but I prayerfully suggest that Harold Camping repent before October 21.

For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1 Pe 4:17)

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.(2 Co 5:10)

 

Please take a look at these other fine essays by my brothers in the Christian Apologetics Alliance:

http://www.reasonsforgod.org/2011/10/does-harold-camping-discredit-christianity/

http://www.cltruth.com/blog/2011/is-jesus-christ-coming-back-on-october-21-2011/

http://www.hieropraxis.com/2011/10/is-the-end-of-the-world-at-hand-reflecting-on-judgment-day-with-poetry/

http://lukenixblog.blogspot.com/2011/10/rapture-judgment-day-and-christs.html

http://weshouldallmakeaneffort.blogspot.com/2011/10/harold-camping-revisited-actual-rapture.html

http://www.thinkingchristian.net/2011/10/harold-camping-a-failure-of-accountability/

 


[1] Harold Camping, 1994? (NY: Vantage Pr, 1992), 525.  See it here.

[2] Ibid, 163.

[3] “A Conversation With Harold Camping, Prophesier of Judgment Day” New York, http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/05/a_conversation_with_harold_cam.html (accessed 18/2011).

[5] Nicloa Menzie, “Harold Camping Linked to Huge ‘Massacre’ of 100′s of Hmong Christians”http://www.christianpost.com/news/harold-camping-linked-to-hmong-christians-massacre-in-vietnam-52351/ (accessed 10/18/2011).  Also see http://www.unpo.org/article/12921

[6] Elizabeth Tenety, “Harold Camping reaffirms October date for the end of the world, says May 21 date was ‘invisible judgment day’,” Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/harold-camping-reaffirms-october-date-for-the-end-of-the-world-says-may-21-date-was-invisible-judgment-day/2011/05/24/AFVsMhAH_story.html (accessed 10/18/2011).

[7] Elizabeth Tenety, “‘Rapture’ evangelist Harold Camping suffers stroke” Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/under-god/post/rapture-evangelist-harold-camping-suffers-stroke/2011/06/13/AGlzYJTH_blog.html (accessed 10/18/2011).

[8]The CIA World Fact Book.  https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html

Response to Part 2 of Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies

This is in response to Guillermo Santamaria’s follow up, Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies 2. Not only did Santamaria fail to engage my critique of his first essay, he followed the same fallacious line of reasoning. Santamaria seems to believe that two belief systems which have a few superficial things in common are necessarily compatible. He equates the transhumanist hope of immortality with the Christian hope. This is a misrepresentation of both worldviews and does a disservice to Christians and transhumanists alike. In this way, he is a lot like a religious pluralist.

A religious pluralist argues that all religions are equal paths to God.  Like pluralists, his arguments are all self-defeating. As an illustration, consider that most religions extend some sort of hope for an afterlife. Does this similarity mean they are compatible?  For instance, Mormonism teaches that faithful Mormon men become gods and are given reign over their own personal planet. Being an equal opportunity faith, their many Mormon wives get the privilege of birthing the new populations for said planet.[1] Of course, this bears little resemblance to biblical Christianity, whose hope is God coming down to earth to restore creation to its original Edenic state (Re 21). Thus, no one could ever coherently argue that these two belief systems are compatible, because they cannot both be right. They have superficially similar but ultimately contradictory hopes. Logically, they could both be wrong but under no circumstances can both be right.

In logic, the law of the excluded middle means that a proposition is either true or false.[2] Think of it in terms that there is no middle ground between a proposition being true and being false. Every statement has to be one or the other.  Its either you become a god and have celestial conjugal relations on your personal planet or believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you inherit a place in the New Jerusalem worshipping Christ (Eph 1:18).  It’s one or the other, the exalted man god of Mormonism or the triune God of scripture. It’s an “either or” situation, “both and” is not an option.

The same applies to transhumanism which is really just another alternative religious belief. The Bible commands Christians to question religious beliefs (e.g., Deut. 13:1–5; 1 John 4:1; Gal. 1:8; 2 Cor. 11:13). In my chapter, “Christian Transhumanism: Pandemonium’s Latest Ploy” in the new book Pandemonium’s Engine, I present an argument that transhumanism is simply the eschatology of secular humanism. In truth, it is the technocrat’s hope for an afterlife. Like Mormonism, it is an alternative to the Christian hope. Santamaria expresses it this way:

If the hopes and dreams of the transhumanists come true, eventually our consciousness or our minds will be implanted in a machine.

This will never happen. But the Bible presents the Christian’s hope as a resurrection body like that Jesus had when he was resurrected. Why would any Christian trade basking in the radiant glory of Christ to upload their consciousness into a paltry tin can?  1 Corinthians 15 is such a foundational chapter for understanding the biblical hope that I commend it to the reader for study. The intellectually honest reader will quickly see that it is clearly incompatible with the cyborgian fantasy of transhumanism.

“There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is of one kind, and the glory of the earthly is of another.”(1 Co 15:40)

“Christ will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.”(Php 3:21)

Santamaria quotes John 3:6 out of context and argues,

This principle was around long before Jesus spoke it.  Transhumanism does not violate it, rather enforces it and enhances it.

But John 3:6 is not an esoteric principle meant to stand on its own. When interpreting scripture (or anyone’s writing) it is essential to read paragraphs to get the flow of the idea being presented. The verse he cherry picked is part of Jesus explanation of the second birth to Nicodemus:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(Jn 3:6–8)

If you believe Jesus, why would ever accept a tawdry substitute like transhumanism? In truth, Christians do not dread physical death (Php 1:21) as we have a radically different hope than the transhumanist:

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. (1 Th 4:13–14)

Santamaria avoided all of my arguments addressing his first essay. Instead of engaging, he addressed a red herring:

Some will say that even if it were possible for our consciousness to dwell inside an artificial machine, this would be a rejection of the body that God gave us. But this interpretation cannot be correct.

This is not the Christian argument against transhumanism.  First off, the biblical position is that consciousness is tied to one’s soul and separates from the body at physical death. At that time, one will either go immediately into the presence of God or to judgment.  Second, he argues that because clothes are “enhancements” to the human body then any sort of radical enhancement is acceptable. Obviously this is a drastic over simplification, as there are wide ranges of possibilities with various consequences. My suggestion is it should be limited to healing and assistance of the handicapped. But radical life extension and the pursuit of immortality via consciousness uploading is not an enhancement. It’s a complete change in ontology. It’s becoming post human.  Please refer to my previous post, Transhumanism: Sin and Hubris.

But all of this is really academic for anyone trying to live the life commended in scripture. A follower of Jesus understands that mere vanity is the plague of sin. Transhumanism is narcissism taken to its most absurd extreme.  It misses the mark exemplified by Christ by a wide margin. In closing, I hope Santamaria will consider how transhumanism compares with Paul’s exhortation to the Philippians:

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Php 2:3–11)


Read more about it from me and my friends Chuck Missler, Tom Horn, Gary Stearman, Carl Teichrib, Mike Bennett aka “Dr Future”, Sharon Gilbert, Noah Hutchings and more! Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00


[1] http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=/EoM&CISOPTR=4391&CISOSHOW=3667

[2] http://www.stanford.edu/~bobonich/glances%20ahead/IV.excluded.middle.html

Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.

By Cris D. Putnam

Marian Osher "Tree of Life"

Everyone, believer or non-believer, is naturally born once and will die naturally once. This is apparent to all and is noncontroversial. But the biblical worldview includes a supernatural component which is not seen by the natural man. There are two additional possibilities, one of which will occur, depending on one’s spiritual status relating to Jesus Christ. These two conditional supernatural events are difficult to accept.

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.(1 Co 2:14)

It wasn’t always this way. God created man in a state of spiritual communion which entailed an intimate connection to him.  Adam’s fall into disobedience ruined that intimacy and put mankind under a curse (Gen 3:14-19).  But notice neither Adam nor Eve were struck dead instantly when God pronounced the curse upon them and the creation. It seems that the physical nature of death was always a logical possibility because God had put two trees in the garden. One was the tree of knowledge of good and evil and the other was the tree of life. Adam and Eve were not immortal beings; it was the tree of life that sustained them.  This can be deduced from the account that God saw physical death as a merciful release from their fallen state.

“Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.(Ge 3:22–24)

In this way, natural death is a blessing but only if you are in the book of life (Phil 1:21). When one is moved on by the Holy Spirit, repents of their sins and convinced by the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection, one is “born again” and released from the second death. Jesus explains this to Nicodemus in John 3:

“Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”(Jn 3:5–8)

When one believes the good news of Jesus resurrection, one’s name is written in the book of life:

“Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.”(Re 20:6)

If one rejects this good news and chooses not to accept Jesus resurrection, one gains a second death.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.(Re 20:12–15)

So whether you are believer or an unbeliever you are going gain a supernatural element: a second birth or a second death. If you earnestly seek God, he will reward your faith (Heb 11:6).

Because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

(Ro 10:9)

Response to Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies by Guillermo Santamaria

By Cris D. Putnam

This is a response to part 1 of Guillermo Santamaria’s article at H+, “Why Christianity & Transhumanism Are Not Enemies.” While I want to make every effort to be charitable and represent his arguments accurately, Santamaria doesn’t seem to understand Christianity. I contend the philosophy of transhumanism is antithetical to Christianity in a fundamental way and I will examine his counterarguments. First, he defines Transhumanism in this way:

First we must state the main tenet of transhumanism.  Transhumanism’s main idea is that the physical limitations of the human body can and should be overcome.  The first goal is supersede the limitations of our biology, with the eventual goal of merging our bodies with machines, most likely the computers, rendering us cyborgs.  The ultimate goal of this movement might be the installation of consciousness inside an otherwise artificial machine.

While Christianity and TH may have similar goals, they are antithetical. Christians also believe that the physical limitations of our bodies will be overcome but I will show that far from being a compatible vision, transhumanism is an alternative vision. One elevates man, the other elevates Christ. Santamaria seeks to mitigate this hopeless inversion. His first argument is:

Just because some members of the transhumanist community are atheists is not enough of a reason for those who believe in a personal God to reject their research and results. No technology should be judged primarily on the metaphysical beliefs of those who developed it.

I have no problem with this. I would drive a car  designed by an atheist. So what? This is non controversial. He misses the point in that our argument is not that transhumanism is incompatible because atheists are involved, rather that its philosophy is atheistic. What exactly is God’s role in transhumanism? It offers a competing vision, it is an alternative to Christian hope. Do you trust in God’s promise for eternal life or would you rather upload your consciousness to a machine? They are alternative eschatologies, the law of the excluded middle applies. But of course, he does not see it that way and lays down a challenge:

The critical question is, is there anything in the goals of the transhumanist community that inherently goes against Christianity? We answer no and we will demonstrate why.

Of course he has already missed the forest for the trees, the fact that we have similar goals is exactly the problem! It is not the goals of the TH community but the means of achieving them. They want to achieve immortality by their own effort instead of trusting God.  This is the opposite of faith. Because he fails to recognize this, all of his subsequent arguments are all self defeating. He cites the account in John 11 of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead as support. He argues that Jesus chose life extension as his means to authenticate his Messianic status. Jesus was demonstrating his authority over death, so that one might believe in Him (Jn 20:30-31). But he was not advocating life extension on its own merits. To the contrary, the dominant overarching theme of Christian life is dying to self. John the Baptist understood this, speaking of Christ, “He must increase, but I must decrease”(Jn 3:30). We die to self and selfish ambitious so that Christ may increase. While this is a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, the Christian does play a part. In Romans, Paul extols both practice of virtues and avoidance of evils (Rom. 12:9, 16–17). Believers put to death the works of the body (Rom. 8:13) and present their bodies a living sacrifice:

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.(Ro 12:1-2)

Transhumanism is about human augmentation and glorification. It is fleshly and worldly, a work of the body (Rom 8:13). Christianity is about humility and sacrifice.  It is of the Spirit. It calls one to die to oneself and one’s desires so that Christ may increase. Unfortunately, Santamaria has missed Jesus’ primary message for the Christian:

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Mt 16:24–25)

“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”(Jn 12:24–25)

This brings the incompatibility with life extension into sharp relief. Transhumanism is openly hostile to Christ’s teaching. Paul understood this and also taught it clearly:

“always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.(2 Co 4:10–12)

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.(Ga 2:20)

Furthermore, he fails to understand that the promise of God to the Christian is that the limitations of our physical body will be overcome not in a cold, hard, lifeless machine but a glorious spiritual body:

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.  When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”

“O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?”

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.(1 Cor 15)

Transhumanism is a substitute vision for Christian hope. It is opposed to Christ.  In the sense that the prefix “anti” means “instead of” it is antichrist. In truth, it is attempting to supplant the promises of God through humanly contrived means. It is offering the same things but not through Christ, rather technology. It’s a very poor trade. Transhumanism will ultimately fail because it fundamentally misunderstands consciousness as I have written about here. Ultimately, Christians are in a process that makes the transhumanism seem tawdry and sad. Do not accept the imitation. I urge you to forego the faux, pick up your cross and follow Christ. Jesus’ message was not about life extension but being born again to a new life (Jn 3:3).

Read more about it from me and my friends Chuck Missler, Tom Horn, Gary Stearman, Carl Teichrib, Mike Bennett aka “Dr Future”, Sharon Gilbert, Noah Hutchings and more! Get a signed copy of Pandemonium’s Engine here for $10.00